Like all of us, I’m just trying to figure out how, and why Trump won, and what to do next. But, unlike most analyses, I want to take an international angle, though.
Sure, there’s “Brexit” — the surprising vote to leave the EU in England in June. But did you know the massive patterns it’s from?
- The Scottish Nationalist Party ejected Labor from its traditional stronghold of Scotland, taking 56 of 59 seats on May 8, 2015
- The anti-austerity, practically brand-new Syriza won its third election in a row in September 20 in Greece.
- October 4 saw a left-wing government in Portugal take over with the backing of the Communists.
- The French National Front broke its records, winning over 40% of the vote in the first round of December regional elections, before losing to a unified opposition in the run-offs. The FN is expected to get into the presidential runoff next year.
- In Spain, two brand-new parties, Ciudanos and Podemos, combined for a third of the national vote on December 20th. Catalonia was won by sovereigntists. This was repeated again this spring.
- On February 26, 2016 the two parties that have dominated Irish politics received a combined 94 out of 158 seats, the lowest combined share ever.
- In March, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party was pushed into third place by a new anti-immigrant party, the AfD in her home region.
- One June 22, Romans elected a mayor running on the Five Star Movement ticket, founded by a comedian that promises to take policy positions through online referendums.
- On July 2, the two parties/coalitions that have dominated postwar Australia politics received their lowest combined vote share ever.
- A week before the American election, the Pirate Party tied for the second most seats in Iceland.
Throughout the Western world, the groups that have led political life for decades have lost not just votes’ affection or trust, but basic credibility.. In most of the West, that dislike takes the forms of new parties. With a system built to make party-building almost impossible in the United States, they are somewhat subsumed into our two-party system. Anywhere else, Sanders and Trump would not have run on their respective tickets, but built new (and quite probably rather successful) parties.
For Democrats to succeed, they need to take the opportunity presented by our structures that artificially sustain the two parties. Sure, we can be narrowly correct in blaming this loss on the electoral college, he media, or Comey. But the true opportunity in 2018 is not “we’re not them!” and embracing Chuck Schumer as leader won’t do it — we need a credible answer to the forces that are driving the global reaction shown above.
Part of that is looking at these groups — what can be learned from them? Some are brand new, some aren’t — the party making the most gains in Ireland is Sinn Fein. The people taking votes away in Australia are longtime Senators bickering with the main parties. Some are left-wing and some are right-wing. What do they do that Democrats can learn from?